Upon approaching the column, the Cosways saw another gentleman talking with young Trumbull. They heard the stranger speaking English in a low voice with a peculiar, soft accent that reminded Maria of Lucy Paradise. They were soon introduced to Mr. Thomas Jefferson, the American Envoy, whom Trumbull had so warmly praised during their previous excursions.
After presentations were made, they stepped inside the hall to a dazzling sunlight, magnified by the elongated glass windows, ingeniously placed in the dome to give the enormous space a light, airy atmosphere.
Jefferson, having studied the architects’ model of the structure, was guiding them through the intricacies of the method of construction, explaining that the builders had revived a technique of Philibert Delorme, a Renaissance architect. He seemed deeply absorbed in his subject. Listening to this soft, intense voice, Maria could observe him with an artist’s eye. He was of a fair, pinkish, slightly-freckled colouring. His un-powdered hair, carelessly tied back, was reddish-brown.
His eyes of a green shade were slightly deep-set with a bright light in the pupils, which by moments suddenly became veiled and his thin lips clamped shut. The line of his jaw was firm, prominent, and manly. He was simply dressed in pale tan breeches, a blue coat with no ornament but brass buttons, and carried a bamboo walking stick. He held himself perfectly straight, nobly so. But when he walked his gait was a sort of slow lope, for he was very tall, almost too thin. His hands appeared strong, but the long fingers were delicate. Beside Richard Cosway he seemed a giant, and Maria noticed that Richard did not let the two of them be seen together for more than a few seconds before he moved away. On the contrary, when she stood beside him, his height gave her a new and pleasant sensation. She felt his manly strength as a foil, bringing forth, for the first time, a feeling of her own femininity.